Welcome to another author interview from The Writer’s Block by Book Scents! Today we are going to be talking with Tess Shaffer, author of Heaven Has No Regrets. When Tessa contacted me and I got a preview of the book, I have to admit I was a little nervous about reading this book. I thought I might not like something that was about grief and loss. However, I was really impressed with how this story is weaved and although there is sadness, you have a counterbalance of wisdom and hope.
I hope you enjoy our interview and will take a chance on Heaven Has no Regrets!
Hi Tessa! Thanks so much for taking the time to do an interview with me!I want to start off this interview by letting you know how courageous I think you are for putting your life out there in this book. For those who haven’t read it, this book is based on a true story and your life. Can you tell my readers why you decided to tell your story?
Thank you, Nalana, I started writing this book to get all of these words and feelings out of me that I couldn’t say out-loud. The book itself is based on my journals, but it has also become a diary of it’s own. And the reason I decided to make it public is that I believe there other people out there who have gone through similar situations as these two characters and that they too maybe have the same unsaid words or feelings about these themes in the book and that maybe reading my words can help them feel like they aren’t alone and hopefully will help them heal.
I know that you did incorporate some fiction into the story telling. Did you find that helpful to the writing process?
Actually, incorporating the fiction was the hardest part for me. I really fought for a long time to keep this story as true as possible, I even kept our real names in the story until the very last month before publishing! But once I did change the names I was able to enhance the overall book better without holding on so tightly to the real events- one of the biggest fictions added was modernizing the story with small references that didn’t exist 10 years ago to bring the characters more current and relatable to today. I also have added some characters into scenes who weren’t present at that exact moment and left out a whole other cast of characters who really WERE there for a lot of this story- (I felt that keeping it to eight- what I will call “background characters”- was better than say introducing fifteen extras into the story), but I think anyone who reads this book whether they were a part of this story in real life or not, will understand that the story IS about Faith & Makenzie. And in my mind, some of the fictionalizing of this story was also about what I had to remove from the real events and real people in order to better highlight Faith and Makenzie’s story.
Heaven Has No Regrets, has four voices (IMO) – Faith, Makenzie, the grieving girl and a voice of wisdom that provides you with insights in between chapters. What was your writing process and how did you come to find these four voices?
Faith and Makenzie’s voices were easy- they are both very clearly documented in my journals and etched into my memory. My cousin and I joked when we were 16 about how our diary entries from certain days would be so similar yet tell different stories so I knew that I wanted to bring that parallel to life. The grieving girl was brought to life from the real life peach notebook that I started writing in and I wanted to tell the story of all the things that you learn and experience after someone you love dies, all the flashbacks that come through at the best and the worst times, and all of the painful things that no one talks about while you’re going through it- or after you go through grief for that matter. The “voice of wisdom” is probably my favorite voice though. I’ve told people, “If you read only a few pages of this book make sure to flip through and find all of the italic pages.” Because not only do they tell their own story, but the italic “wisdom” pages are what I really want most for people to take away from this book. These pages were the last to be added to the process and I think that says a lot about my own healing process that I experienced through writing this book as well. I also love how the “voice of wisdom” causes the reader to pause and reflect in between the flashbacks and the grieving narrator, instigating hope and healing for anyone who needs it.
When we worked on your candles we incorporated “the wishie” into your custom labels. Tell us about the wishie and why its important.
Faith and Makenzie make a lot of wishes in this book, and it was important to show the hope and the love that went into all of our wishes back then and now. To me, making a wish for anything is a practice of hope and love. Jemma Church designed the cover of this book and created the wishie logo (that I absolutely love!) with the little heart on the bottom and I think it’s a perfect symbol for who the characters are and what I want everyone to remember. A dandelion flower cannot be blown into a “wish” until it dies- but once it’s seeds are spread with a hopeful blow the wind can carry the seeds of just one to fill a field with future wishes. In my mind a dandelion is eternal.
Besides writing, you also have a business called Moonstone Creations and you practice Reiki. Can you tell us a little more about these two endeavors?
Yes, I started my jewelry business in 2011 with the dream to inspire people to “new beginnings” I create jewelry for every occasion from wedding party gifts to spiritual and memorial jewelry personalized with a loved ones name. My favorite new line is a collection of jewelry incorporating nature and real butterfly wings, inspired by the quote “just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly” which can accent almost any new beginning in life from a new job to the transformation one goes through after losing a loved one. I discovered Reiki last year, and since it has become a huge tool through my writing process and my healing- and it continues to bring a much needed balance to my life. I can honestly say I would not have been able to finish this book without Reiki. It’s not only a type of stress management technique but it brings things to the surface emotionally, mentally, and spiritually that need to be processed. So much of this book were pages that were stuck inside of me (things I hadn’t yet dealt with) and the Reiki truly allowed me to move through my grief in a healthy way along with helping me to focus on my own health and internal issues like confidence and self-worth. I’m forever grateful for being introduced to Reiki!
Finally, I’d love to share with my readers what books or authors you love to read? Who inspires you as an author?
I love to read the kind of authors that find the strange in the familiar and point out the familiar in the strange. Chuck Palahniuk is one of my favorites who is able to do that.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today! I really enjoyed Heaven Has No Regrets and I look forward to more books from you!
Thank you, Nalana! I enjoyed your though provoking questions! =)
You can find Tessa and her book online at the following places:
And check out this great video!